City Council passes resolution calling for speed cameras


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THE COURIER/File photo
THE COURIER/File photo

Local lawmakers are telling drivers to slow down.

On Wednesday, March 20, the City Council approved a resolution calling on the state Legislature to pass a law allowing New York City to set up a speed camera pilot program. It would test 20 to 40 speed cameras installed at high-risk locations across the city for five years, according to the Council, which said one in four traffic deaths in the city is caused by speeding.

“The speed cameras would not photograph the driver or disseminate the license plate number of the vehicle,” the Council said in a release.

Fines would range from $25 to $50 for speeding between 10 and 30 miles above the speed limit and $100 for driving more than 30 miles above the speed limit.

“If we can save the life of just one child by reducing the speed of vehicles in our city, this pilot program will have served its purpose,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who sits on the Council’s Transportation Committee and helped spearhead the resolution. “We are obligated to protect the lives of our city residents and introducing a speed camera pilot program in New York City will help reduce excessive speeding in areas that have been plagued by drag racing, excessive vehicular crashes and pedestrian collisions.”

One accident where speed may have been a factor is the death of a nine-year-old Sunnyside girl, Hallie Geier, who, in 2004, was hit by an SUV in front of Van Bramer’s home.

Following the incident, Van Bramer and the Council worked to have the Department of Transportation (DOT) install speed humps on the block.

But more needs to be done according to the Council, and the DOT agrees.

After releasing 2012 traffic safety statistics this week, DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan is calling for “swift state authorization for the city to use speed-camera enforcement for the first time, with a priority given to streets near schools with documented speeding.”

Although the city experienced historic lows in annual traffic deaths last year, “fatal crashes overwhelmingly involved speeding (increasing from 49 in 2011 to 81 in 2012),” and were “the greatest single factor in traffic deaths.

NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly is also behind the speed camera plan, according to reports, and sent a letter to state legislators and Governor Andrew Cuomo expressing his support.

But the New York City Police Benevolent Association (PBA) strongly disagrees with Kelly, and believes money for the program would be better used for other speed mitigating measures.

“Speed cameras are no substitute for live policing. Many speeders are unlicensed, some are operating under the influence and sometimes they are fleeing crime scenes or carrying weapons,” said PBA president Patrick J. Lynch. “Cameras let all those dangers slip by. Money spent on speed cameras would be far better used to improve public safety by hiring more fully trained police officers to interdict speeders.”

Photo courtesy of DOT